Recent entries

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2451 Copy

    Questioner

    You've mentioned before that your conclusions, you like to have people figure it out, like, a paragraph right before it happens. Which one do you think you executed best?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, man. I am not sure. It's tricky, because it's getting harder and harder to fool the readers as they get wiser and wiser to my things, so at some point, I just have to be okay with that. So I think that the early books, I was able to pull off more. Like, the Mistborn 1 ending is probably the one that gets people the best. I think I'm getting better at my climaxes, but now... that people are getting wise to me, I have to convolute them a little bit more. Like, the Oathbringer one, people were probably expecting from Book One. They have multiple books to...

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2452 Copy

    Questioner

    What gave you the idea to write the Alcatraz books?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You know what, it was the first line. I was just doodling in a notebook one day, and I wrote down, "So there I was, tied to an altar made of outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil librarians." And I had to write that book. So I just kind of took that line, and I ran with it.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2454 Copy

    Questioner

    What inspired you write Way of Kings? Was that your first one?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That was not my first one. It's different-- There are lots of different ideas that usually come together to make one book. And Way of Kings is lots of different ideas. One of them was wanting to tell a story about a world where the highstorm, where the magic storm hit it periodically... The idea of how life would have to adapt to a storm. But there are lots of different ideas that come together.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2455 Copy

    Questioner

    On Skyward, I love the Graphic Audio adaptations. Do you know if there's any plans to do a Graphic Audio recording on Skyward at this time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's not plans right now. I'm trying to talk Random House into it. I guess it would be Audible into it, 'cause they have the audio rights. They haven't let us do the Reckoners. It's tough because Audible bought the rights directly, and Graphic Audio is a direct competitor. Whereas with the Stormlight books, MacMillian audio is not the same. So, we'll try.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2457 Copy

    Questioner

    Do you have a giant timeline somewhere written out all of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do. Actually, it's in a wiki. I work digitally for most of my stuff. It's one that myself and my assistants use to try and keep everything straight. Actually, Karen, who this book is dedicated to is my-- Her main job is to do the timelines and keep me consistent for every book.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2458 Copy

    Questioner

    What made you decide to take the Dark One out of the Cosmere series? You couldn't get the magic to work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It work a lot better once I pulled him into our world, and had the people coming to our world to assassinate him. And once I pulled something into our world, I boot it out of the cosmere. That did free up the magic to work in a different way from cosmere magic, which it is doing. It's kind of based on this idea of the narrative, that stories that people tell become real in the other world. Which could have worked in the cosmere with some Cognitive Realm things, but its working much better outside.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2459 Copy

    Questioner

    Who do I blame for killing off some of my favorite characters in the last book of Wheel of Time? You, or Robert Jordan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Actually, there are three people to blame. I chose about a third of them. Robert Jordan chose about a third of them. And Harriet, his wife, chose about a third of them. So you can blame all of us. She killed Bela, though. I tried to make Bela live. I know. I tried. I worked very hard.

    Questioner

    Who killed Egwene?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Harriet has asked me not to reveal that one. Egwene, Gawyn, and some of the others...

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2461 Copy

    Questioner

    In this book [Skyward], you have a little bit of telepathy and teleportation. So, was that magic?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, absolutely.

    Questioner

    So it's fantasy and sci-fi?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What it is is, sci-fi trappings. But my science in this is pure magic.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2462 Copy

    Questioner

    Where did Wayne come from? ...Who is he modeled after?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He is not modeled after anyone specific. He came from me wanting to write a character who changed his personality based on the hat he wore. Like, literal, a person who wears lots of hats... I started a short story with him as the main character, and I found he needed someone to play off of, and that's where Alloy of Law came from.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2464 Copy

    Questioner

    So when you were in Houston about a month ago, was it for research for future issues of Skyward?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yep. And I needed some help on certain things. It was super helpful, particularly going in and talking to the pilots. Like, astronaut, very cool. But talking to them about in-atmosphere flying and things like that was really handy.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2465 Copy

    Questioner

    Did you know Hurl's fate before you started writing it all?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, I built that all out in the outline... I needed somebody who was the image of Spensa who went the wrong way, as kind of like a model for what she would see herself in. And part of the inspiration for Skyward is Top Gun, which has that as a major theme. So it was a very natural sort of thing to weave into the story as I was going.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2468 Copy

    Questioner

    Why did [Alcatraz] set the kitchen on fire?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He didn't intend to. It just kind of happened. That sort of thing just kind of happens sometimes. It's based off of my cousin, who accidentally set the kitchen on fire making a burrito. He started his kitchen on fire because of a flaming burrito. Be careful about-- when you're cooking your burritos.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2469 Copy

    Questioner

    Why didn't Spensa just go home to get food, instead of just having to hunt?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, there's a couple of reasons. Number one, she's kind of independent and strong-headed, and doesn't want to admit that she can't do it. And number two, she needed that time to work on M-Bot. If she were going down and coming back up, she wouldn't have the time. But she would set snares for rats, which she could check in the off-time, which meant that it saved her a lot of time eating only rats.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2471 Copy

    Questioner

    A lot of filmmakers and authors that have ended up producing not-great work, a lot of times, they'll cite the publishing house, they'll cite the studios, things like that, and they pressure that they get to release earlier than they initially wanted to. How have you managed that relationship with your publishers to effectively make sure that all of your books have met at least your criteria for excellence? And certainly your fans seem to enjoy them. How do you work that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is a balancing, because there is a business side to this. Writers don't get as much push as filmmakers do, because no one has invested $200 million into me making a book, right? And recently, I have moved my contracts away from advances and more to kind of just being a cooperative publishing deal with the publisher, kind of with the understanding that they don't get to give me deadlines. I write the book and I turn it in. And I'm able to do this because they trust me to actually write the books and turn them in.

    And so, it is a balancing act, though, in a different way. I've never really felt pressure from the publisher. But at the same time, there's that famous quote, "Art is never finished; it's only ever abandoned." You can always do another revision. And where to stop your revision is something that I think each author kind of has to come to terms with. Because if the book were released a year later, it would be a different book. It may not be better; it might be better. It may just be different. So learning to balance that, to know when you're done with revisions and things like this, I think is certainly a part of it. It isn't a big problem for me.

    Words of Radiance is the closest it came to being a problem. Because we had the publication date set, and then the revisions just took longer than we expected. And my core assistant, who was doing copyedits, was spending way too long on those copyedits. We've tried to learn to balance that. But it's something that authors have to learn to balance, so good question. I'm not sure I have a straight answer for you on it, though.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2472 Copy

    Questioner

    When writing, do you ever encounter a problem where you're building a world or writing a book is very similar to other things going on in popular culture, something like that? How do you build your world to be different from those, so it doesn't feel similar?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Artists and writers are more afraid, in my experience, of being thought derivative than they generally should be. A lot of times what you'll see is, people who have a similar sort of background and are reading the same sort of things will start to create things that are similar. There's a reason Brent Weeks and I both released color-based magic system books within a year of each other. And it's not because we were talking; we didn't even know each other then. But we both grew up reading the same sort of things and were exploring magic in the same ways.

    I don't think you need to stress this nearly as much as you do. At least as much as you probably do. My experience has been that the only thing that's really gonna be original about your story is you. And you are going to add things to this story. Look at the number of people who have told Beauty and the Beast in different ways. Or Cinderella. We had a Cinderella book become one of the biggest books of the year just a few years back, in Cinder. You are going to be able to add things. If you have early readers say, "This feels derivative." You can always change that, or you can always write something else. Don't stress it. Write the book you want to write, and train yourself to be a writer, and it really isn't gonna be as big a problem as you might think it is. It wouldn't matter, for instance, if you released a book the same year as Mistborn that had a metal-based magic system. Like, X-Men has a character with a metal-based magic, and it was the biggest movie of the year a couple a years before Mistborn came out, and people don't read Mistborn and be like, "Wow, that's just Magneto, only lamer." *laughter* Thankfully, they don't say that. So, don't worry about this as much as you might.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2473 Copy

    Questioner

    I could be completely wrong, but I believe a skill is something that you pick up after years of being beaten in a school system, and talent is something that you're born with. If you've ever been out on a karaoke night, you know the difference between a skill and a talent. Is writing a skill or a talent?

    Brandon Sanderson

    What a wonderful question! ...I think writing draws on both. And I think writers need both. And to explain the difference, the skill of writing is learning plot structures. Learning how different plots play out. Learning what types of words to use in what situations. But the art of writing, the talent of writing, comes in bringing it all together to something that is somehow bigger than the sum of its parts. And figuring out that balance, and how to take something that you've constructed out of pieces that you've learned and turn it into something that is a little more magical (no pun intended) is the art of writing, and that's the part that I can't explain. I can teach you the skill of writing, and I can teach you maybe to train yourself to express the art. But at the end, the talent is something that can't be defined.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2474 Copy

    Questioner

    I read on your website that, to come to your class, you have to submit a manuscript or something, that you read. Has anybody in your classes published works that you would recommend?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The way my class works-- By the way, if you can't take the class, which is kind of hard to do since it's in Provo, Utah. I do record my lectures periodically. There's three years of them online. I don't record it every year, but every three years or so I record the lectures and just post them on YouTube. A lot of my students have gone on to write books I would recommend.

    Let's see if I can name a few. Jed and the Junkyard War. Which is a really cool middle grade about a kid who goes to a world that's completely a junkyard, and everyone scavenges out of that. It has some really good worldbuilding. That's a good book. Like I said, middle grade targeted, so if you know someone who's, like, eleven or twelve and they want a good one book, that one's great. Charlie [Holmberg] writes great books. I just read Chris Husberg's new book. If you like the epic fantasy stuff, he does a very good job with epic fantasy that deals with religion and politics and things like that. I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody. There are a lot of students who go on to publish things. Janci [Patterson] ...writes teen books with a lot of emotion and problems and messed up lives, trying to sort out messed up lives, short books, and they are fantastic.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2475 Copy

    Questioner

    A question in general with your writing process. Do you learn a lot from your students that have gone on to become authors in their own right? Do you come back looking at their works and maybe saying "I can incorporate this kind of style into my writing?"

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would say I tend to learn more from the writers who were with me when I was breaking in who are around my age, 'cause we're all kind of going through the same things. So people like Dan Wells or Mary Robinette Kowal that are kind of my group that broke in around the same time, I try to talk to them a lot about writing. This is where my writing podcast came from, Writing Excuses. It was me just wanting to ask them how they fix thing, how they deal with this thing, how they deal with that. Certainly, some of my students have gone on to do really great stuff that is inspiring. Brian McClellan's Powder Mage books are great. Charlie Holmberg, who writes the Paper Magician, the Glass Magician books are great. Lot of really great writers. I don't know how much credit I can take from them. But I am inspired a lot by a lot of the books that I read. But I wouldn't say that group specifically. Though working with new writers is kind of inspiring in its own way. Less about the things they're writing, and more just remembering what it was like, and the passion you have when you're a brand new writer. That kind of fresh-faced innocence is handy for someone, the longer you go.

    Skyward Houston signing ()
    #2476 Copy

    Questioner

    You were saying you were a professor? So it sounds like your writing process, that's a full-time job. Is it your full-time job, or has--

    Brandon Sanderson

    How do I balance all of these things? I am the least amount a professor a person can be and still claim the title. I teach one class one semester a year that is an evening class for three hours. I gave up all the other classes that I taught, once the writing took off. And it's really quite helpful for me to have that one night a week where I just go out and work with new writers. Because I think if you don't do that, if you don't see what new writers are doing, and things like this, then it's too easy to get crusted over in your little sanctuary and not pay attention to the outside world. But the professor part of Professor Sanderson has become very much less professorial over the years. Writing is my full-time job, and has been since I went full-time in, like, 2006 or so. So I really only had two years or so being a real professor before I became a fake one. But they still call me one, they claim me.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2480 Copy

    Jofwu

    Who or what is Vorinism named after?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can't remember. I named it twenty years ago, now. In-world, it is named for somebody. The early influential writer who put the whole thing together. But that's the new continuity, because the old continuity, it was kind of put together by the Heralds.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2483 Copy

    Questioner

    Is it cold enough on Roshar for snow?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Only in the mountains.

    Questioner

    Do you get a highsnowstorm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the mountains, yes, it's very weird. And it's only in the tops of the mountains. There is. But you will see this when and if we visit the Horneater Peaks, which are covered in snow, except for the hot springs.

    Questioner

    Are there snowspren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2484 Copy

    Questioner

    For Jerkface... Was he supposed to stay a jerk, or did you want him to...

    Brandon Sanderson

    I planned out his arc. I tried very hard to evoke Malfoy, Crabbe, and... Goyle. I tried very hard to evoke that, and then try to pull the rug out from underneath that. Whether I was successful or not, depends on your interpretation, but he was always supposed to be.

    And the real fun and twist to this book is, Spensa's kind of the bully, but she presents him as the bully. And hopefully, as you read, you're like, "Wait a minute..."

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2485 Copy

    Questioner

    Have your ever thought about how your magic systems would affect a pregnant woman?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have given thought to it.

    Questioner

    ...Which system would you say would be safest as a pregnant woman?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I think Stormlight-- being Invested with Stormlight would be very safe. You would probably be better off than not. Hemalurgy would be very bad.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2486 Copy

    Questioner

    I'm writing a fantasy book that's like D&D. Do you have any advice for me? I'm about 6000 words.

    Brandon Sanderson

    A lot of great science fiction and fantasy have come from roleplaying campaigns. Not just Dragonlance, but also the Malazan Book of the Fallen started as a roleplaying campaign. And you will find this happens time and time again. Do understand that the things that you guys experience in your roleplaying session that are really funny are probably not going to be funny on the page, because they're funny in the situation, so you have to work on making the characters all work on the page, not as they work in your-- together. Make sure everyone's on board for you lifting and borrowing the stuff for your story. And make sure you don't use any of the Wizards of the Coast trademark things. For instance, you can't use Beholder. That's a trademark thing. But you can use zombies, because zombies are in everything. So learn the difference there.

    But just have fun with it. Your job right now, as a newer writer, is just to write and practice. And that practice will teach you how you want to approach your stories as you move forward. And the more you you do it, the better you'll get at it. And the more you'll know what you need in order to make it better. And that can start from anywhere. That can start from a D&D campaign. That can start from a silly song lyric you hear. It can start from fanfic. It doesn't matter where it starts. The chore you have is to practice it and learn what works on the page, as opposed to what works in person.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2487 Copy

    Questioner

    When you started writing for Wheel of Time, did you find that any of your opinions changed when you wrote the characters, versus--

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, Mat was way harder than I expected him to be to write. I thought Mat would just zip out and be super easy, and I was taken by surprise by how difficult Mat was to write.

    Cadsuane had always been my least favorite character, and I was surprised by how much I understood her when I had to stand in her shoes.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2488 Copy

    Questioner

    Is there any connection or coincidence to the Krell in Skyward, versus the Krell from Forbidden Planet?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes... Forbidden Planet is one of my favorite movies. Perhaps my favorite classic science fiction movie. I really dig any sort of Shakespearean interpretation in another medium. So I named the Krell after the Krell from Forbidden Planet.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2489 Copy

    Questioner

    What do you wish that you could have asked your favorite writers about writing when you first became a writer? And what do you think they would have said?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This one is easy. I would have said, "How do you finish your book, Mr. Jordan? Specifically: X, Y, and Z that you didn't put in the notes."

    Otherwise-- You know, a lot of the things that you do as a writer aren't about what you ask other writers. And a lot of the advice you'll get as a writer won't work for you until you have written. So I wouldn't have known the right questions to ask them until I was struggling through that myself.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2490 Copy

    Questioner

    Previously, you told me that Hoid loves bacon. Is there any other thing that you can tell me about Hoid that we won't be able to RAFO?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh man, I'm running out of stuff to tell you about Hoid that I can't RAFO because I get asked this enough that I forget what I've told people and what I haven't. I'm particularly fond of his monologue for the fourth book. So, be looking forward to that. It's a little different than the others.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2491 Copy

    Questioner

    In Skyward, what is your callsign? And what was the process for creating so many callsigns?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My callsign is Mr. Prolific. That probably wouldn't work as a good callsign, but it was my callsign way back when I was in my writing group, my first writing group with my friends.

    The process was, actually, I wanted to pick a callsign that used the same sound as their real name, to help people keep them straight. Because you basically have a double number of names in the book. So same letter or same sound, creating it. And I just started with that letter or sound. And then I wanted them each to feel distinctive. If they're all, like, initials. Or they're all one-syllable names, it can be really easy to mix them up. So I wanted some that were two or three syllables. Some that, they wanted to reinforce who the character was sometimes, things like that. That's where I went on that.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2492 Copy

    Questioner

    In Alcatraz, he mentions a souvenir about a bullet that can pierce steel. Was that nod to Reckoners?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, that's a nod to Reckoners. There's lots of them. If you read the Alcatraz books, there's an Asomedean joke, there's a Spook's street slang joke. The Alcatraz books, if you haven't read them, are kind of me practicing my improv skills as a writer. Every writer, I think, needs to have some measure of ability to outline, and some measure of ability to just "pants it," as we say. And the Alcatraz books, I write completely pantsed. I give myself a list of things that need to be in the book, and I try to work those in as I go. And that ends up with a lot of me making jokes about myself and my process.

    Skyward Atlanta signing ()
    #2493 Copy

    Questioner

    Which character arc has been your favorite to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I usually don't pick favorites. Because all characters in all the books are like my children. But I will say it was extraordinarily satisfying to write Rand's arc, that I did in Gathering Storm. That was a true delight as a long-time fan of the series. So probably that one.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #2495 Copy

    Questioner

    What is your philosophy on prologues? You do a lot of them.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do a lot of them. I don't think they're necessary. I'm fond of them. Usually, if you can find a way to not do one, your story will probably be stronger. But they do let you do something like, for instance, if you know that the later tone of your story is not going to match the early tone of your story, you can hint what the tone is actually going to be in the prologue, which is really handy. And there are other things you can do. You can start with a bang with a prologue in a way that maybe sometimes you wouldn't be able to do if you were going right into the main story. There's things that I like about them. But I do think that they become a crutch to some writers, and that might include me.

    Questioner

    Do you have a recommended length in terms of how long it should be? ...Or maybe how long it should not be? What would be the max for a prologue?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, Robert Jordan's kind of became books unto themselves, and that worked for him. But when you're getting that long, you might be-- Short and sweet is probably your best. One of the best prologues ever written is the prologue to Eye of the World, Robert Jordan. But there's no real-- Just try to avoid the classic '80s one where it's like, "Prologue is all the worldbuilding dump that I couldn't fit in to the first chapters."

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #2497 Copy

    Questioner

    A question about Jasnah and your relation to Jasnah. She's a Veristitalian... Is that a part of Jasnah that is you, or is that a part of Jasnah that's somebody else?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The fascination with history and trying to use it to change the present is me. And that is the part of Jasnah that I-- Also, by nature, I'm kind of a Slytherin. And so would Jasnah. That part of me is there. The "do-gooder Slytherin," if that's not an oxymoron.

    Questioner

    And does the word Veristitalian come from "veritas"?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. So, in their language, it would not actually be Veristitalian. What I do is, my books, I pretend they're in translation. So when Wit makes a pun, or when you see something that echoes Latin or Greek, the idea is that they are echoing in-world ancient languages that we have chosen, instead of transliterating, to actually translate so it gives the right feeling in English.

    Skyward San Diego signing ()
    #2500 Copy

    Questioner

    I've been thinking about Idealism as a philosophy and how the concept of the... Cognitive Realm is sort of like a very realistic version of Idealism. Is there any influence there at all?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, definitely. I was a closet philosophy major in college. I didn't actually do that, but I attended a lot of philosophy classes. And I'll tell you this, philosophers don't know to write. That's the most annoying part. You read their essays, and they're full of brilliant ideas, with these enormous run-on sentences that make no sense. You have to like-- So I got really frustrated by that. But I really loved the classes and reading and things like that, and the touch of it is all over my books. If you look for it, you'll find a lot of the different philosophies, you'll find all those guys in different places on different philosophers and different religions and stuff like that.